Life is about to get a lot more comfortable for some dogs and cats — and the people responsible for caring for the animals.
The grand opening of the $1.2 million Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) center, 6302 Crossings Blvd., is scheduled for Sunday, and less than a week later, after the animals are moved into the facility, it will come alive with the sound of dogs and cats.
Since 1980, when a small group of volunteers founded PAWS, the center has operated in a crowded building at 2790 Cincinnati-Dayton Road that was 1,300-square-feet with about 100-square feet of office space.
That’s about to change.
The new center, located just off Ohio 63 and near Ohio 4, will feature 6,000-square-feet of space and about 500-square-feet of office space.
“It’s more than night and day,” Executive Director Tracy Gilchrist said when asked the difference between the sites. “There is no comparison.”
The adoption center, Gilchrist said during a tour Thursday, includes 20 covered outdoor kennels, food preparation areas, multi-purpose fenced yard, bathing areas and an infirmary for sick or recovering animals. PAWS, the area’s only no-kill shelter, has the capacity for 35 cats and 28 dogs, she said.
The staff and volunteers also will enjoy a community room for training, events and meetings, a pavilion, a full-service kitchen and a gathering room, Gilchrist said. Eventually, Gilchrist said, PAWS can host community events as a fundraiser.
It’s her goal, she said, to use the new facility to expand the services at PAWS, making it more of a community business.
Since PAWS didn’t have enough assets to be considered “lender worthy,” no bank would finance the mortgage. But when Middletown’s James Myers, whose favorite charity was PAWS, died two years ago, those in charge of his $5.2 million estate, earmarked $350,000 for the shelter.
Myers’ gift was the largest in the 38-year history of the Middletown Community Foundation.
T. Duane Gordon, executive director of the MCF, said PAWS also received $100,000 from an account that was opened about 20 years ago by the late Mary Jane Palmer, a Middletown business woman. Through the foundation’s investments, Gordon said, the account has continued to grow since the early 1990s.
The PAWS community room is named in Myers’ honor, Gilchrist said.
She believes the new shelter gives the Middletown and Monroe areas “a sense of community.” She said about every day someone riding a bike stops by to learn about the center, and the 10,000 vehicles that drive on Ohio 63 daily adds to the center’s exposure.
Throughout the move, Gilchrist said steps have been taken to save money. She said all the furniture is used, and some of the items have been brought over from the Cincinnati-Dayton location.
“We’re cutting corners,” she said. “We want people to know that we are being responsible (with the money).”